Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Rahm Emanuel's Freedom of Assembly Conundrum

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    NEWSLETTERS

    While Mayor Rahm Emanuel was vacationing in Argentina and Chile, his constituents realized that, back in Chicago, his attitude toward freedom of assembly was starting to teeter.

    Emanuel admitted he had “made a mistake” when he gave the impression that the curbs on public demonstrations he wants for this May’s NATO and G-8 summits would be temporary.

    That could mean he intends to permanently raise fines for resisting police to between $500 and $1,000. He said he needs to check his facts.

    The higher fines would obviously be intended to intimidate would-be demonstrators coming to Chicago on buses from New York and Portland.

    People who protest against economic inequality have no money. If they had money, they’d hire lobbyists instead of marching through Grant Park. In Mayor 1%’s world, the right to influence public policy belongs to those who can buy a plate at one of his fundraisers.

    Last month, this Ward Room blogger predicted that Mayor Emanuel was seeking to permanently expand his authority to limit demonstrations in Chicago.

    “Once a legislative branch surrenders power to an executive, it seldom gets that power back,” I wrote.

    Emanuel did backtrack a bit on the beach and park closures, saying “I believe that’s temporary but I want to be accurate and I’m going to get you the information.”

    Obviously, the mayor’s temporary security measures were a trial balloon. He’s trying to figure out how many he can keep on the books, to discourage future dissent.

    This is what the Occupied Chicago Tribune had to say about the mayor’s mistake: “Mayor 1% finally admits to a lie, but refuses to change his tactics in stifling dissent and First Amendment rights of protesters. None of it will stop what is coming to Chicago in April and May.”

    What did they expect? It’s January. This is when all the politicians preview their Spring Fascism Line.

    Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!